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NEWSFLASH - Government takes action on building safety

21 January 2020

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced a range of measures to ensure residents living in high rise blocks are safe in their homes.

To give effective oversight of the design, construction and occupation of high-risk buildings, a Regulator will be at the heart of a new regime and established as part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Jenrick made it clear that building owners are responsible for ensuring their buildings are safe. Where there is no clear plan for remediation, the government will work with local authorities to support them in their enforcement options.

He stated that from February, building owners who have not started to remove unsafe Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding from their buildings will be named and shamed.

The government will also consult on extending the ban on combustible materials to buildings below 18 metres and views will be sought on how risks are assessed within existing buildings to inform future policy.

Below, we reproduce the MHCLG statement in full, together with the necessary links to further information.

“The Housing Secretary has announced a series of measures to ensure residents are safe in their homes, and feel safe, now and in the future.

The Government has announced a series of steps that MHCLG will take to go further and faster, ahead of publishing the response to our Summer consultation on ‘Building a Safer Future’, which will set out how we propose to implement Dame Judith Hackitt’s proposals for reform of the regulatory system for building safety.

Our announcements today span six broad areas: 

  1. We are moving swiftly to introduce the new regulatory regime and are establishing the new Building Safety Regulator, initially in shadow form pending legislation. This new Regulator will be established within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which has a strong and proven track record of working with stakeholders, including industry, other regulators and the public. Dame Judith Hackitt will chair a Board to oversee transition to the new regime.
  2. On remediation, the Secretary of State will be appointing an independent construction expert to review remediation timescales and identify what can be done to improve pace in the private sector. From next month,the Secretary of State will name those responsible for buildings with insufficient progress. MHCLG will work with the relevant local authorities to support enforcement where there is not a clear plan for remediation.
  3. The Secretary of State is minded to lower the height threshold for sprinkler requirements in new buildings and, in February, will set out detailed proposals for this and how the Government will deliver the technical review of fire guidance.
  4. Following the review of the effectiveness of our ban on the use of combustible materials, the Secretary of State has launched a consultation on the ban, including on proposals to lower the 18m height threshold to at least 11m.
  5. We have listened to feedback from building owners and have published updated advice on the steps building owners should be taking to address a range of safety risks.This gives building owners the clarity they have sought and brings together 22 separate advice notes. The advice: clarifies that more action is needed to review these risks in buildings below 18m;clarifies that ACM cladding with an unmodified polyethylene core should not be used on buildings at any height (this reflects the evidence from the materials research programme); and clarifies the action building owners should take in relation to fire doors.
  6. We are publishing a call for evidence seeking views on the assessment and prioritisation of fire risks associated with external wall systems, such as cladding, within existing buildings. So far we have relied on height limits

In addition, MHCLG continues to work with the Home Office to deliver the Fire Safety Bill to support delivery of the recommendations of the Grenfell Inquiry Phase 1 Report that need to be implemented in law.

The proposed Bill will place beyond doubt that external wall systems, including cladding, and the fire doors to individual flats in multi-occupied residential blocks fall within the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and will support enforcement action. 

We will continue to engage with a wide group of stakeholders, including industry, building owners and residents to allow us to listen, learn and gain the feedback that we need to successfully implement reforms to the building safety system.” 

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